A building can be seen as the material embodiment of the specific ideas and expectations not just of its designer but also of the client and the users. This makes it a cultural object, an object with social and symbolic significance and meaning.

Social function: buildings create spaces and places in which people can carry on

their activities optimally. Primary elements here are health, welfare, communication

and quality of life.

Cultural function: a building must also satisfy requirements relating to the form and

character of the spatial environment. The cultural function involves aesthetic,

architectonic, urban design, planning and environmental factors. Culture also

includes the notion of civilization, one of whose implications are that buildings

and the activities they accommodate should not be nuisance or cause damage to

the environment.

The architecture critics Hillier and Leaman (1976) also distinguish four main

functions of a building, but divide them up differently:

Spatial organization of activities

A building needs to provide optimum support for the activities desired by properly

arranging the available space: for example, by sitting related activities next to one

another and providing efficient communication between them, and by separating

activities that are likely to conflict with one another.

Climate regulation

A building must provide an optimum interior climate for the user, his activities and

his property. This necessitates a protective ‘filter’, separating the inside from

the outside, and efficient plant. Inside the building, elements which separate

and connect and the equipment of the different rooms must make it possible to

adjust the interior climate of each room to suit its own particular use.

Economic function

A building requires investment. It gives added value to raw materials.

Maintenance and management form part of the exploitation cost, and must be

set against income from rental or sale. It follows that a building, whether property

or an investment object, has economic value and so an economic function.

The first functions named in the above lists can be summarized as utility functions.

The last two functions refer to cultural functions.

This division correspond closely to the functions distinguished by the architect Nordberg-Schulz (1965). A building creates an artificial climate, protecting people against the influence of weather, insects, wild animals, enemies and other environmental hazards. The Building also provides a functional framework, within which human activities can be carried out.

These activities are socially determined, and so give buildings a social meaning. A building can also represent something cultural – perhaps something religious or philosophical. Nordberg-Schulz refers to the combination


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